Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Lifting the January doldrums

By Mac Arnold
RTO Editor

A couple of beautiful things happened over the past two weeks: one was a couple of coyote gigs and the other was putting in for spring gobbler.

Nothing soothes the soul from midwinter cabin fever in Michigan like planning for turkey when the dogwoods bloom.

Ahhhhhhhh. Just saying, "spring gobbler season," brings warmth to my soul.

Yes, I went outside the box and applied for a unit where there are only 10 tags available, but if I do score I will be the only swinging Richard out there and that is very appealing. Last season was duel at the Sanilac County camp with another guy who has the personality like that of a squeaking styrofoam cooler in the backseat of the Jeep.

If it's not to be, then so be it. I'll live. The chucklehead won't make every gig I'm on, and the action is always fairly decent there. And if it heads in that direction again, I ought to pay a visit to Dairy Farmer Dave's just down the road, which has paid big dividends for me in thunder chickens and fall birds a few years back.

It's just that Dairy Farmer Dave can be a tad cantankerous at times.

Despite no coyotes being heard or seen, I was quite happy I finally got out on a predator hunt behind the
RTO photo by Mac Arnold

For sure I thought a coyote would be
prowling up from the gully below just 
like on the hunting show I saw the 
night before. But alas, none showed.
house Jan. 16 in Monroe County, Mich.

Even a couple inexplicably walking their dog in the adjoining field in the MIDDLE OF JANUARY didn't lower the happiness level. Well ... much. I'm sure that didn't help my cause. They are very wary. Something like that will close them down. 

I didn't see any tracks headed out there either so the thinking now is that I need to be in the back woods where I watched him come out a couple of times during deer season. And also, one time, where he howled 40 yards from my setup. 

We will meet again.

For the next hunt, Friday, Jan. 23, I did make it all the way to the back 40 in behind the house in Monroe County. 

Unfortunately, I think all the other errands I ran via the quad, stirred up too much noise. 

After having a handful of fall hunts disturbed by oblivious trail walkers from the adjacent property, I finally posted the back lot line with a blessing from the property owner. Enough is enough.  Especially when on two high-profile hunts -- opening day and second day of deer firearms season -- the hikers came cruising through without any blaze orange on at all.

It's just plain ridiculous. And disrespectful.

Anyway, again no coyotes came out to play but questions in my mind about whether the H&R .223 was still on were eliminated when I did a little varmint control on a opossum 80 yards out. Dead critter.

I thought that it could provide bait for later in the hunt but later I saw conflicting information on the Internet on whether they'll even go after pink-eyed satin rats.

But by far the highlight of the hunt that afternoon was after I cruised over on the quad to confirm the kill, up flew a snowy owl from the oaks lining the frozen plowed white field. The enormous wingspan was awe-inspiring. The giant owl must have been scoping the opossum the whole time, which was acting strangely by pacing around in circles.

With late winter and milder weather approaching, more hunts await.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Best of 2014

By Mac Arnold
ROA Editor

It may seem a bit harsh of me but this veteran outdoorsman is quite happy to put 2014 in the trail behind me.

Additionally, I now consider the 2014 hunting season a wash.

It's too bad because it showed so much promise early. But the end was so ... disappointing.

I don't know how else to put it. Maybe frustrating also would be fitting.

This unveiling of Rockin' The Outdoors with Mac's Best of 2014 in mid-January is quite belated, most likely from disgust and maybe some lethargy.

Lethargy has taken over likely from putting in some serious time in the deer woods over the autumn months and into winter. With the Monroe County countryside in Michigan covered in a layer of white and daily temperatures hovering around zero, now is the time for relaxation and hope for spring, mainly with spring bringing heavy, long-bearded toms.
RTO Photos by Mac Arnold
Well lookie here, guess what was 
just a step ahead of Augie and me
during a chilly walk one night?

It won't all be curling up under a blanket, with hot joe watching football and hockey. There will be time allotted for attempting to knock down Wile E. Coyote, which is one critter I've yet to bag. This is a very necessary endeavor with much evidence and howling providing the incentive, along with a desire to keep them off the deer herd behind the house.

So let's get this list out of the way first, shall we? And I'll stop my bellyaching.

3. AUGIE LEARNS THE ROPES: Holding up the bottom, was an uneventful Dec. 1 bird hunt at Petersburg State Game Area, yet one that has big ramifications for the future. It was Augie the black Lab's first time out under live conditions. Although we didn't have any flushes, I still got an opportunity to see how he would handle ranging in the field and live fire. He passed with flying colors.

2. MAC LEARNS THE ROPES: Coming in at No. 2, was a grouping of three successful goose hunts -- one in September and two in October for a total of three in the bag -- at the new hot spot at the sub's pond, which is a huge draw for all types of waterfowl. More importantly, I learned how crucial the wind's role is for setting up in the right position so when the geese liftoff from the pond, they fly past the setup. They prefer to take off and land into the wind. Also, I found great success in the Browning 12 gauge with Black Cloud's No. 2 shot. It was very effective.
1. ARCHERY SUCCESS: At the top of the Best of 2014 list was the first archery kill I've had since 2011.  And we're not talking crossbow here, which I imagine would be acceptable for someone of my circumstance with having two torn rotator cuff surgeries and all. About 15 minutes before legal shooting light the evening of Oct. 23 in walked a nice doe and right into one of my prearranged shooting lanes between a tall oak and a sapling a mere five yards from the stand. (Just how I like it.) I really couldn't have drawn it up any better. Despite the shot ... let's just say it was a little high, the big girl dropped right in her tracks. When I got down, it freaked me out how big she was. What a horse, but those seem to be rule these days at the Sanilac County deer camp. The freezer is full.

Augie tears it up in a DNR
planting at Petersburg
State Game Area.